Friday 7 August 2015

Jolly Underground Ghost-Cruise with Severin Sistern

Outside the gates Bastion's New Progressive University, a canal-yacht beckons freshly graduated students, with some of their parents' money left to burn. For just 50s you can ride the Free Spirit into the mysterious underground and back. On your way you'll be guided through the subterranean world by Severin Sistern, young heir to the Portwell-Sistern brandy empire.

Severin Sistern - Privileged World Traveller
STR 10, DEX 6, WIL 14, 3hp, Fancy Hide Jacket, Fake Musket (d0), Machete(d6), Fertility Idol.
- Tell you a story, in a patronising manner, about his years of exotic travel.
- Exaggerate his familiarity with the Underground.
- Cower from any real danger, under the guise of "letting you discover the world for yourself."

The Free Spirit - Expensive Canal-Yacht 12hp.
Two Silent Punting-Men, Swivel Gun (d10), Colourful beads and fancy tapestries. 10g, Ivory-Pistol (d8) and a teddy hidden in Severin's locker.

Rules of Passage
1: Everyone must be open to sharing an experience together.
2: Keep your arms inside the boat at all times
3: Stash all weapons in the storage locker.
4: No refunds.

All complaints are directed to Severin's father's guards (5 Corporate Thugs, 6hp, d6 Claw-Hammer, Cauliflower Ears).

The canal takes the following Route, each section lasting around 30 minutes.
1: The Sewer. A stinking stretch of narrow canal with gross weeds hanging down from the roof.
2: The Cavern. A glittering forest of crystals, with neon-paintings on the wall (fake, by Severin) depicting clues to the scripted scares.
3: The Rapids. A winding, white-water decent with bats and bugs. The Yacht takes d6 damage.
4: The Lagoon. A vast underground lake dotted with piles of floating debris.
5: The Drop. A mossy cave riddled with squeaking lizards and bubbling hot water, ending in a 50ft plunge dealing d6 damage to the yacht.
6: The Lift. Abandoned mining tunnels ending a masterpiece of hydro-engineering that raises the yacht back to the surface, but only works 50% of the time. If it's broken there's a rather anticlimactic ladder climb back to street level.

Roll d6 at the start of each section.

1: All quiet now, but roll a Real Horror later.
2-3: Roll a Scripted Scare.
4: All quiet beside bugs and nasty smells.
5-6: Storytime with Severin (Roll a Scripted Scare and have Severin foreshadow it with with much exaggeration)

Scripted Scares
Roll d20

1-4: d6 Inside-Out Men (Severin's Lackeys in Organ-Suits) 4hp.
What are they doing?
1: Performing a highly rehearsed song and dance number Don't Go Into the Underground
2: Caught on a smoking break before performing their song and dance number. 
3: Breaking character and running from a Real Horror that's nearby. 
4: Trying to gross out the passengers by rubbing their organ suits up to them. 

5-8: The Witchety Worm (Lackey dressed as worm-faced hag) 4hp. 
What are they doing?
5: Slowly approaching the boat with a cloth doll before screaming and banging it against the side. 
6: Pointing at one passenger You! You won't make out of here!
7: Calling out for her young to come home for dinner. 
8: Begging Severin to take her back to the surface, which he refuses before shooting her "dead". 

9-12: d6 Man-Cattle (Ordinary Cows with Human Masks) STR 15, DEX 5, WIL 2, 1hp. 

What are they doing?
9: Mooing with disinterest. 
10: Eating grain from a pretend corpse. 
11: Being chased around by a Shell Urchin. 
12: Lying butchered in a pile. 

13-16: d8 Shell-Urchins (Child Lackeys in Lobster-Shell-Suits) 7hp, STR 5. 

What are they doing?
13: Begging for coins and asking if any of the passengers are their mummy. 
14: Clacking at each other with their fake claws. 
15: Calling out to Severin, Father! Take us Home!
16: Sat in a circle chanting Click Clack Nick Nack Down Down into the Black. 

17-18: The Boggoth (An ogre-like puppet operated by three lackeys).

What are they doing?
17: Something's gone wrong with the mechanism and only one limb is swinging menacingly, the rest hanging limp. 
18: Roaring and yelling at the passengers. 

19-20: Mother Underground (Severin pretending to channel her voice)

What are they doing?
19: Severin whispers Why do you come into the darkness? and presses one passenger for answers. 
20: Severin yells NONE WILL COME BACK ALIVE MWAHAHAHAHA with extra ham. 

Real Horrors
Roll d20

1-4: d10 Blood-Men (Scrawny mutants dripping in rat blood) 8hp, d6 Pick-Axe, Droning Pipe. 

What are they doing?
1: Butchering Man-Cattle and rubbing themselves in the blood. 
2: Playing their Droning Pipes and reacting with hostility to any interruption.
3: Carrying around the looted puppetry of the Boggoth with much amusement.
4: Lying in wait to hurl glowing poisonous giant millipedes (STR 3, 1hp, d6 Bite, swolen-bursting-death on Critical Damage) at the passengers. 

5-8: Father Vud Dool (Disfigured Fat Monk) 4hp, d6 Staff, Rotten Old Robes. 

What are they doing?
5: Offering Underground Mead to any passers by. It's gross and causes loss of d6 DEX. 
6: Looking into his Peering Hole, a pool that shows nearby treasures (including any carried by the passengers)
7: Preaching loudly about the Smogfather, who is in the middle of cleansing the surface of Bastion so that those in the underground can inherit the city.
8: Trying to sneak aboard to get passage to the surface. 

9-12: d6 Eye-Toads (Huge misshapen amphibians) 7hp, d8 Gulp, Crystal Eyes that transmit back to a remote viewer. 

What are they doing?
9: Watching silently from the darkness.
10: Barking out loudly as d12 more Eye Toads start to appear.
11: Fleeing from the Mock Kraken, who they are trying to observe from a distance. 
12: Just in the middle of tearing some Man-Cattle to bits and eating the remains. 

13-16: d8 Lizard Girls (Mutated Hopping Urchin Girls) STR 15, 5hp, d6 Slobbering Bite causing spasms and paralysis on Critical Damage. 

What are they doing?
13: Arguing back and forth about which way to the drinking hole. 
14: Bullying a smaller lizard girl by dunking her head under the filthy water.  
15: Selling genuine underground food to passers-by. In reality it's just pots of filth they want to trick you into eating. 
16: Preparing to throw a bomb (d12) at the yacht to raid for supplies. 

17-18: Mock Kraken (Wiry mass of leather arms ending in two-pronged hands) STR 15, 10hp, Armour 1, d8 Grasping Hands. 

What are they doing?
17: Reaching out for companionship, pulling anyone that will welcome his grasps out of the yacht to see his leathery grin and exchange pleasantries. 
18: Eating one of the Lobster-Urchins with tiny nibbles. 

19-20: Mother Underground (Genuinely channeling action through Severin)

What are they doing?
19: Severin suddenly cannot speak before vomiting uncontrollably. The word LIAR can be heard with each retch. 
20: Severin starts to bleed from his nose, then his ear. Then drops dead in a heap. 


  1. This! This is great, that's what I meant of when I said that "adventures are better that simple dungeon looting" commenting last post.
    I'll probably use it, only doubt is what kind of check or how can players see that something is not right (for example that some monsters are fake)

    1. Glad you're finding it useful!

      For checking if the scare is fake, I'd just give them descriptive clues, without just saying "it looks fake".

      My experience is that players will mistrust everything just enough that they won't be 100% sure anything is real or fake.

    2. I'm undecided between running this or the Oddegon Rail.

      This looks so good because it's perfect for a one shot: few npcs and a secluded setting. Maybe during the cruise the Free Spirit is destroyed by something or someone and the Pcs find themselves trapped underground. That's surely much more interesting than the usual "you all meet in the tavern and go to defeat the evil wizard".

      Good idea, too many times dice rolls decide the outcome of a situation, it's better if the players interact as much as possible with the world.I've to work more on the descriptions!

  2. I look forward to running this before long! And I've taken STEPS, you know, to make it easier on me. Here it is as a 4 page .pdf.

  3. I got two sessions out of this. One where they went down on the 'tour' and one where they went back to get people they left behind. Second time ended up much much worse than the first with many blood men around and none of the original people were rescued. Severin wasn't with them the second time, so I had to fill in some blanks on the rolls. I used Roll20 and just switched pictures based on what 'section' they were in.